BIOSECURITY IN TODAY’S AG WORLD
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Lions and Tigers and Bears
Once upon a time, there was a world where all we had to worry about was lions and tigers and bears (Oh my!). The yellow brick road was lined with the sweet goodness of lollipops and licorice. However, in today’s world, we no longer see the proverbial wildlife and scarecrow, nor do we see bricks of gold. Rather, we see disease, parasites, and losses.
In reality, all this isn’t new. Biosecurity has been a term used for several years. However, not everyone within the agricultural world is familiar with the term and why it may be important to them. So, let’s take a look at what biosecurity is and how it can impact you.
Biosecurity in Agriculture
To put it simply, as it pertains to agriculture, biosecurity is the protection of plants and animals against pests (e.g. rodents, insects) and diseases. By alien, I mean pests and diseases not already on your farm. It also means reducing the risk of spreading diseases to other animals currently on your farm (Waage, 2008).
Without biosecurity, our crops may be worthless. Our livestock may die. Our dream, livelihoods, and future may be gone. To prevent as much as possible from this happening, we need to keep biosecurity in the forefront of our minds. We need to actively keep working to keep our farms safe and security from those pests and diseases that can take what we have worked so hard to build from us.
Biosecurity and Crops
Crop biosecurity looks at ways to eliminate (or at least limit) the introduction, establishment, and spread of plant pests and noxious weeds. Of course, when the grasshoppers swarm in, there’s not a lot that we can do about them. However, the things that we can control, we need to at least make a valent effort to do so (United States Department of Agriculture, 2017).
So, what should we take into consideration as it pertains to our crops? We need to be diligent and be prepared!
Know where your seeds / plants come from.
Inspect whatever you bring onto your farm for insects, rodents, and invasive “stowaways”.
Keep the environment cleaned up so you don’t inadvertently attract rodents.
Have a response plan in place as it pertains to insects and rodents in case of infestation.
What else can YOU think of as it pertains to crop biosecurity?
Biosecurity and Livestock
Now let’s learn a little about biosecurity as it pertains to our livestock. This is where the rubber meets the road, in my opinion, as we are now dealing with living creatures. This is where we see not only sickness, but also death, if we are not diligent in biosecurity. As it pertains to livestock, not only are we concerned with rodents, just like we are with crop biosecurity, but also people and other animals.
Disease can completely wipe out an entire herd or flock. People can also get sick from the animals that we care for. To help combat this this, due diligence is very important. Here are some things that you should do as a part of your biosecurity program (Olcott, n.d.):
Find out about the disease history and current testing practices of animals you intend to purchase prior to bringing them to your farm. As for proof of testing!
Quarantine animals for a set period of time before introducing them to the rest of your herd or flock.
Physically examine the animal and have your own testing done.
Don’t allow outsiders into your pasture or barn without foot protection and washing of hands.
Ensure that feed has not been contaminated by rodents.
Keep water sources clean.
Wear gloves when handling sick animals.
What else can YOU think of as it pertains to livestock biosecurity?
Olcott, B. (n.d.). Biosecurity for Dairy Goat Producers. Retrieved October 8, 2019, from
United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). National Plant Health Emergency Management Framework. Retrieved October 8, 2019, from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/biosecurity/download/PHE-framework.pdf.
Waage, J. (2008). Agricultural Biosecurity. Retrieved October 8, 2019, from